Sunday, October 23, 2016

Teaching Through Themes: Fire Safety Week

This past week we learned all about fire safety. In preparation for this week, I had a discussion with my class about fire safety and learned we had a lot of misconceptions. Our fall break (yay!) fell during the middle of that week so I decided to postpone it so that we could spend a full week learning how to be safe.

Click on the picture to go to NFPA's website

We started off the week by talking about our schema and what questions we had about firefighters and fire safety. Then we spent some time looking at non-fiction text to help us label an color a firefighter and fire truck. Looking closely at non-fiction text has helped us realize that we can get our questions answered through books. It has also helped us label and have our colors make sense in our pictures when writing.




We had some fun making a replica of a hook and ladder truck! We used Boo Berry cereal as the firefighter driving the truck and a small marshmallow as a siren.




 Then, we made firefighter hats and put out some fires. I found this idea here and had to do it! We took a field trip to one of the fire extinguishers in our school to check it out. Then we made a fire out of tissue paper in our cups. We added baking soda and sprayed in vinegar to watch the "fire extinguisher" put out the fire.  





Can we say fun?! We also read a firefighter emergent reader so we could practice sight words and vocabulary.  


And our shared reading was all about being safe if there is a fire. Here is one of the pages:


Throughout the week we also played this great firefighter game from consumersafety.org


What do you do for Fire Safety Week?


Happy Teaching!


Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Text Dependent Questions: Chapter 1

I am so excited to be back at blogging.  Trying to find time to blog with a 3 year old and 3 month old has been a new adventure, but I am slowly learning how to make it work.  One of my favorite things to do is read professional development books (#totalnerd) so I thought this was the perfect way to get back into blogging!

I am so excited to be linking up with Mrs. Wills Kindergarten for her book study!  Her blog has been super helpful to me over the years!


One of the fabulous things about my job is that I have the freedom to choose my own books. When I read this chapter I kept hearing myself say yes! this is exactly what I need to do. From now on, I will be using the four phases of close reading when picking books. Not all books are appropriate for close reading...which has been my hang up in the past. It is going to take some practice to pick books out in this way, but I am excited to try.



I like the idea of giving my kids a space to struggle. Questions that fall into our students' zone of proximal development is a sweet spot where we see the most growth. The authors tell us that the amount of support we give in our students' struggle is on a continuum.  We have to remember that as a class e are learning how to read books just as much as we are learning about the author and book itself. For us as teachers, we also have to remind ourselves that it is about practice not perfection. We need to allow ourselves space to struggle with this new teaching practice as well.


I love trying out new practices in my classroom. This is especially true when they are taking my class into a direction that follows best practice! It really can be a messy practice. Muddling through something new does not always go right the first time (so hard for me!), but getting messy is the best way to learn how to integrate new practices into your own teaching style.  


I look forward to getting more practice with the four phases of close reading. I feel like I am building an anchor chart in my head to refer to when picking books and for lesson planning. My first a-ha moment is the organization and understanding I am beginning to feel around close reading. My second a-ha is collaboration between teachers and students as well as the class learning from each other. We, as a class, are learning how to learn from books together.

Looking forward to chapter 2!


Saturday, February 27, 2016

Having fun with Flocabulary

Have you heard of Flocabulary?  It is a fun and engaging program that will help your students learn through educational hip-hop music. They have content that spans all grade levels, all subject areas, lesson plans, resources, and assessments that are Common Core aligned to help you with your planning.  They have over 700 videos (and counting) to support your instruction in math, science, social studies, ELA, vocabulary, current events, and life skills.  And the website is easy to manage! Check out the picture below:



In my class, we love the vocabulary videos.  The kids love to watch them, dance, and act them out.  I love the vocabulary instruction and the speed of the rhymes.  My students are able to act out the vocabulary words introduced in the videos because the pace is just right for them! (I apologize for not having a picture of my classroom using Flocabulary.  My projector is having some issues so the color is very off right now.)

Would you like to explore Flocabulary and see if it is right for your classroom?  Click on the image below to start your free trial.


I hope you love Flocabulary as much as we do!

Happy Teaching,



Friday, December 18, 2015

Five For Friday: It's almost winter break!!!

I am linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five for Friday!


The week before break is always jam packed and this year was no exception!

I tried something new I found on Pinterest for parent gifts this year (I think it was from First Grade Blue Skies. Everything she does is so cute!). We made handprint snowman canvases for our parents this year and they turned out super cute! All you need is a small canvas, acrylic paint, the kids hands and some sharpies. I had never used a canvas before, but this gift could not have been easier.  All you have to do is have the student write their names on the back and the year, paint the canvas, paint their hand, and then decorate to make snowmen. 




We have had a lot of fun practicing "How To" writing in the past couple of weeks. This time of year it is always fun to sequence and practice "How to Decorate a Christmas Tree." We started off by sequencing pictures and making a Christmas tree out of play dough. 


These are the materials we used. The kids helped me decide that the small gems were lights and the large ones were ornaments. We also added bell and snowflake ornaments as well. I didn't get a picture of this, but the kids got such a kick out of putting the real ornaments on the tree (I found the glitter ones at the Target dollar spot... thank you Target!). I forgot to get stars for the top so we improvised with a snowflake. 



We also used our sequencing cards to build Christmas trees out of sugar cones. Yum! We used Skittles as ornaments and reserved a yellow Skittle for the star.



This is my new favorite way to send these masterpieces home:
We transferred the trees to a bowl, put a cup on top, and then wrapped them in aluminum foil.  


All of these activities supported our interactive writing. I love interactive writing and so do my students. It can be a time consuming process, but it is such a great way to help kids in the zone of proximal development (but that is a post for another day). 


I just discovered PicMonkey this week and it has changed my life! It is a free easy way to edit your pictures. Amy Lemons from Step into 2nd Grade has a great tutorial on how to use it.



Happy Holidays! 


Sunday, November 1, 2015

Currently-November


I am linking up again with Farley from Oh' Boy 4th Grade for the November Currently.  I have been a little (a lot) absent from my blog recently because:


I have a few post ideas in draft form right now and excited for currently to help me get back into the groove!


Listening: To my husband and son playing...there really is no better sound then all of those giggles. 

Loving: The cooler autumn weather.  

Thinking: I can't believe it is November already. Where does the time go? 

Wanting: A nap.  I love naps right now and gaining an extra hour is fabulous, except for when your 2.5 year old wakes up at 7 AM.  

Needing: I am giving a parent presentation on phonological awareness in about a week and a half. Yikes! I am nervous because I want to make it fun and informative. I have a rough draft right now that is just content. I can't wait to add fun graphics and clipart :)

Yummy: I love a good pumpkin pie! Really, I love any kind of pie. Costco has the best pumpkin and apple pies this time of year.  Yum! :) 

Happy November!


Saturday, September 5, 2015

Do you GoNoodle?

If you don't, you need to check it out! It is a must in my classroom. I don't know how I ever taught without it! GoNoodle is great for a brain break. The kids are up, they are moving, and everyone is happy.

I am linking up with other GoNoodle bloggers for the GoNoodle Blogger Blitz to give you a glimpse of how we use GoNoodle in the classroom. Check out everyones posts for fun giveaways too!


My FAV-O-RITE (I am saying this just like Eric Litwin singing the song to Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons) way to use GoNoodle is with the Scoreboard from Whole Brain Teaching.  It is easy and so motivating. My scoreboard is this simple whiteboard (see picture below).  Kids get points by following the rules (the happy face) and the teacher earns points when they don't (sad face). Neither kids nor teacher can be up more than three points on each other. At the end of the day (or in the middle at the beginning of the year), we calculate the difference in points and the kids earn "GoNoodles" for each extra point they have.


We also love using GoNoodle during Morning Meeting.  The handshakes from the Koo Koo Kangaroo channel are perfect for our greeting!

Now for a little fun!  Between September 4th-11th the GoNoodle Shop is 15% off with the code BTSwithGoNoodle.  I may have to get some champ stickers and temporary tattoos for my students! They would be so excited!

And last but certainly not least, a giveaway! I am giving away Eraselets from the GoNoodle Shop. They are bracelets and erasers in one. No more erasers rolling around the classroom! Leave a comment and let me know how you use GoNoodle in your class and I will pick a winner at the end of next week!
Happy GoNoodling!!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

I am Excited to Go Back to School

I go back to school next week. I can't believe it. Friends, don't get me wrong, I love teaching. But, that transition back to school is tough. Waking up, getting back into routine, busy all the time...it is a big change from those "lazy" days of summer.

If you have seen "Inside Out" you know my sadness and fear were taking over. Well, that train of though needs to come to a screeching halt! I needed to bring back my Joy.  She needs to be in control.  Does anyone else feel the same way?

That being said, my new goal has been to focus on the positives of going back to school and I hope you can join me in that endeavor.


1. Go Noodle: I can't wait to teach a new group about Pop See Ko and find out what this group's favorite song will be. Will they love the ninja training or want to get loose?  Dancing and singing with my kiddos is probably one of the best parts of my day. Thank you GoNoodle and Koo Koo Kangaroo!

2. The energy of a new group of kids: It is contagious and exciting!

3. School supplies. I love new school supplies, color coding, and pretty planners. Wasn't that your first clue that you wanted to be a teacher? :)


4. Introducing a new group of kids to Pete the Cat or Splat the Cat or Mercy Watson or the Pigeon books: Each class is different, but one thing they always have in common is that they find a series of books to love. Two years ago my class LOVED Pete the Cat. They could recite them all from memory... even my most struggling readers. I had one student write his own "Pete the Cat" book. Last year, my class LOVED Splat and once we read the Pigeon books starting putting "talking bubbles" in all of their writing.


5. Implementing my new summer learning: This summer I participated in the Teaching with Intention Book Study hosted by Greg of the Kindergarten Smorgasboard. I also read "The Morning Meeting Book" from Responsive Classroom and am still working on "Teach Like a Pirate." I have lots of fun new ideas that I am excited to try.  I really look forward to adding more games into my classroom, focusing on comprehension, and adding more fun science projects throughout the year.


Why are you excited to go back to school?