Sunday, August 31, 2014

Doubles Game Freebie

This week for our Math Facts rotation, I quickly made up a game to practise our doubles. It's a free download on TpT
It comes with two identical game boards that I printed back to back. The first focuses on double 1-6, the second on 7-12. Students simply chose the side that they needed to work on. This is my favourite way to differentiate in my math facts tub - give the same board, focusing on the same skill, but just change the numbers. The kids are usually pretty good at choosing the game that is appropriate for them. 

We used a normal 1-6 sided die for the first side (roll a number and double it). For the second game I printed out the numbers 7-12 and added them to those clear pocket cubes you can get on Amazon or from teacher supply stores. I think I got mine from Really Good Stuff in the U.S. (sorry for the blurry pic!). I just LOVE these cubes! We've been using them a lot the last couple of weeks as they are so versatile! 

I took these photos on Friday when we had our Book Week parade. The kids don't usually wear princess gowns and glittery slip on shoes to school! My kids looked absolutely adorable, I wish I could share some pics!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Student Book Boxes

Many, many, many Aussie teachers have emailed or asked on here where I got my student book boxes from. I actually got them from Really Good Stuff in the U.S. however I had to set up an account at to get them shipped here to Australia. I love how I can get things from companies that don't ship to Australia by using shipito!

 Don't you just love how they add some brightness to the room?

I was recently contact by Elizabeth Richards School Supplies who informed me that they have started to supply some here!!-Plastic-Book-and-Storage-Bins-&theme=newproductthemeclr 
I only wish they came in other colours - these are nice but wish there was a pink or purple and lighter blue and green to fit in with my colour scheme! 

The good news is that it ends up being HEAPS cheaper! For a little more than what I paid just in POSTAGE you can get a class set for! What is even better - they will last you years. Mine are one of the best investments I've made for my classroom.

They also have an amazing offer on their regular cardboard book boxes. They are usually $3.59 each but are only $1.95 if you order 100 or more by the 31st October. They'll be delivered at the beginning of Term 1 next year. This might be an option those of you who haven't used book boxes before and want to try them out first. You could team up with some of your teaching buddies and have them ready to go for next year. 

On an unrelated note, I think he could definitely change my mind, haha!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Word Wall Game

The word wall is a staple is most primary classrooms as it helps create a print rich environment and provides constant exposure to those basic sight and spelling words that our students need to know automatically. The more experiences students have with these words, the more likely they are to be internalised. 

I can't believe the only photo I have of my main word wall is from back to school last year (January 2013!). I really need to start taking more photos!
I use other word walls throughout the year, but they are mostly temporary, and consist of content or concept words that change as we are learning new topics.

I have used this exact same word wall (it's actually my door!) for two years now because it fits sooo many words! I like how the columns for each letter are narrow, so words are listed, rather than being side by side in shorter boxes like a previous word wall I had. It makes it easy to read and find words. 

I start the year off with only student names added with a green border. I add our year 1 no excuse words (that all of our year 1 students are required to learn) with a pink border and our 'spelling focus words' with a blue border the week after we learn them. For the first week, our new words are in a pocket chart at the front of the room so we can continually refer to them during writing lessons and spelling activities throughout the week. Our spelling focus words are words that follow a spelling pattern that we are learning about. I find the coloured borders help students find words easily. 

To help students know what words are on the word wall so that they actually use it, I have some games that we play. One of our favourites is 'The Missing Word' duh, duh, duh!!

The Missing Word
We start by sitting in front of the word wall and reading through the words. I then ask them to turn around and cover their eyes while I remove a word. When they turn back around, they have to guess what word I have removed. As the year goes on, and there's more words, it becomes more tricky so they start by asking me clues like: 
  • Does it start with a vowel? 
  • Is it a sight word or spelling focus word? (blue or pink border)
  • Does it belong between F and M?
  • Does it have a blend, digraph, long vowel, short vowel etc? 

Once they figure it out, we spell/chant the word and spelling, replace it and turn back around.

This game is really so easy to play and is great for when there's a few minutes to go before the bell!

I have some others I'll share over the next couple of weeks but I'd love to hear about your favourite word wall games or activities too! 

Saturday, July 05, 2014

6 Traits of Writing Bulletin Board a quick post today to let you know that I've just updated my 6 Traits of Writing Bulletin Board pack. I've given it a fresh new look with new images and fonts. 

It comes in two versions - chalkboard and polka dot - and includes 89 skill cards ready to go. I've also included an editable version of the skill card so you can add your own if needed. 

I've also included two different types of headings. The page size version shown here:
 and the large circular letters with a smaller description card shown here:

This is the bright polka dot version: 

If you are one of the 1,222 people who has this pack wishlisted, you can pick it up for the next couple of days 20% off!

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Winter Crafts and Word Problems

What I would do to jump in a plane and fly off to somewhere nice and warm right now! Maybe to the amazing oceans and Mayan ruins of Belize, or perhaps to see the beautiful art and countryside of Tuscany.... well a girl can dream, right?! Instead I am suffering through our Winter where my entire wardrobe consists of flannel pj's, woolly socks, ugg boots and a very warm and comfy dressing gown!

Not that I'm comfy at the moment - I am SORE! I have reluctantly pulled myself away from Game of Thrones season 2 (yes, I've only just started watching the series!) to head out for 6km bush walks the past few days. Ouch, if I'd known that half the walk was uphill I probably would have reconsidered! I even did a bit of jogging so I can up my fitness and attempt to keep up with Liz and her hubby when we do The Stampede in a few weeks. I really don't know what I've gotten myself into!

Besides the cold, I have been enjoying the Winter holidays! It always feels good to go into the holidays with assessment completed and reports done. Before we left, we completed a few Winter themed crafts I thought I'd share. 

We loved making these snowmen! It doesn't snow here in Brisbane, but it certainly feels cold enough!

During the last week of term, I went with some simpler crafts that the kids could do independently while I worked with some kids to finish off other work. Did I mention that we also had our Grade 4-12 sports carnival going over 3 days during the last week and the oval (where about 1500 kids were running around) is just metres from our room?! Luckily, instead of getting all riled up with music playing all day, my kids worked quietly so they could hear it! Happy teacher :)

We started with a torn paper penguin after we read The Emperor's Egg. Boy, did they LOVE this book! 
I found this craft here - I copied the steps onto a powerpoint and displayed it so the kids could work independently. 

We also did a snowman in a snow globe for no other reason than it was short and easy. The day before, we did a marble painting for the background and the next they just had to assemble their snowman. Many of the kids tried to show movement - like the wind knocking their snowman over, instead of just having a standing snowman.

We've also been working through some Winter themed word problems in Math. You can grab this pack in my TpT store!

50 Winter Addition and Subtraction Word Problems

What Winter crafts are you doing soon? 

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Very Blue Thingamajig - Visualizing

Tuesday was our first back after our Easter break. I always forget after holidays how good other workers have it by being able to go to the bathroom whenever they want!

Anyway... on Tuesday we reviewed Picturing Penguin while reading The Very Blue Thingamajig by Narelle Oliver. This book is great for teaching about visualising because of the rich descriptive text about the physical characteristics of the very blue thingamajig (as well as being a great text to celebrate difference!).

Before reading, we reviewed Picturing Penguin and then I read the book without showing the pictures. Many students closed their eyes as I was reading to help them see a picture in their mind.

After reading, I displayed the final page that describes what he looks like on the interactive whiteboard. We read through it several times while examining the meanings of some of the vocabulary used to describe his physical characteristics (twisty twirly, ferocious, waxy, tangerine etc), including the mathematical language like odd, even, four lots of two etc.
Each student was then given a piece of paper and as we went through the description one last time, they drew what they pictured the very blue thingamajig looked like based on the description. Here is what they came up with:

Side note, one little girl had a very PINK thingamajig... because pink is cuter, why else?

We also did some work this week on identifying the nouns and adjectives and writing sentences. We'll continue working with it next week. I'm sure many of my Qld readers have also read this book this week... do you have any great ideas to share?

Next week, my school is starting to stream our Year 1s for reading. I've got 24 of the highest readers from across our 6 classes for an hour each day. Has anyone else tried this at their school and have some tips for making it as successful as possible? 


Monday, April 21, 2014

Photo Dump

I know that I've been all over the place and quite absent with my blogging for about a year now, I just can't seem to get ahead now that I'm teaching year 1! I don't know how other bloggers are able to blog a few times a week!

Anywho, I have been trying to remember to take photos of what we've been doing and even though I'm a bit sporadic with it, here are some that I haven't shared before.

I updated our whole brain teaching rules for this year. I'll be able to share this file with you once I receive the back up of my hard drive (which I dropped and broke.... and have just paid over $600 to have the data restored from...luckily they were able to retrieve 100% of the files, yippee!!).  

Random charts. I have made a simple editing checklist that my kids use along with the chart when writing. I'll be able to share that too. 

Adjectives About Me is from this Parts of Speech pack by Amy Lemons.
Cat the Splat Easter craft is from this Splat the Cat Easter pack by Christie at First Grade Fever. Inside the egg book, the kids wrote about some story elements which was a good review of our English unit in Term 1. Some of the kids chose to also make a little Seymour to join Splat - isn't this one cute!

  Guided reading and spelling choices (from Term 1) drawers.

Random photos of the back of my classroom.

If you're in Australia, I hope you are enjoying your Easter break. I'm back to school tomorrow!

Saturday, March 08, 2014

First Grade Round Up

Here's how we've been spending the past week in Year 1. 

Smartie Spellers Spelling Strategies
1.Smartie Spellers
I've been a little tired of my firsties asking me to spell every. single. word for them. We made up this chart last week to give them some strategies to use instead of asking me. I'd prefer them to try and work out the word as best as they can and move on so that they don't lose their flow of ideas. So far it's working!

2. Author's Purpose
We've been learning about author's purpose the last couple of weeks - just to entertain and inform for the moment, since we are only in our 6th week of the school year. We've compared and sorted books, identified non-fiction text features and story elements and graphed our preferences. I was very surprised that with 14 out of 24 kids being boys that only 6 preferred information books! 
Author's Purpose Entertain Inform ChartAuthor's Purpose Book Sort

3. Representing Numbers 

We've been rockin with our number unit! The chart below was incomplete - we added number sentences, 20-bead strings and a number line as we learned how to use them to represent numbers. You can pick up the sheet below here in google drive.
Representing Numbers Chart
4. Digraphs
We've been learning about digraphs the past 4 weeks. Each week we've made a new phonics crown. They are a huge hit! I bought them from The Primary Techie. I also love her Freeze Dance videos (kids LOVE the Gangnam style ones!), Move It and More Flash, Less Cards packs! They make great brain breaks and warm ups. 

5. Spending too much money :(

This week I received a number of packages. Lots of goodies from Really Good Stuff and Lakeshore plus more books to contact from Scholastic!

I'm headed for the couch to watch chick flicks and contact some books. Hopefully your evening is a tad more exciting than mine!

Sunday, March 02, 2014

One of my favourite authors - Nick Bland

5 weeks of the school year are done and dusted and I'm already exhausted! My kids are starting to settle in and learn the routines which is great, but I can't wait until they are a little more independent!

Last week I introduced my kids to one of my absolute favourite aussie authors and illustrators - Nick Bland. Oh. My. Word. They are just as in love with him as I am! Here are some of the books we love:

The books featuring that adorable brown bear are firm favourites and are quickly tucked into book boxes as soon as I've read them and placed them on the shelves. This week we are going to use Donald Loves Drumming to work on retelling and making personal responses and connections to texts. 

The last book I will read by Nick Bland is The Magnificent Tree because it is illustrated by another one of my favourite aussie authors and illustrators - Stephen Michael King who I will introduce next. I love using his books to demonstrate 'voice' because his illustrations are so uniquely his and end up tying this in with our writing lessons.

We don't have time to do full-on author studies, but I do like to collect up books by authors and introduce them throughout the year. I then try to use them as mentor texts during reading and writing lessons. Throughout the year as new books are published by these authors the kids get super excited! They also love to borrow the books we've read from the school library. Yes, it can get a bit annoying when the 15th kid comes up and shows me a book by one of the authors EVERY library lesson, but hey, as least they are reading books by quality authors! 

Besides Nick and Stephen, I've also introduced David Shannon. I'm also looking at doing Jeannie Baker, Eric Carle, Mem Fox, Jackie French, Julia Donaldson, Margaret Wild, Colin Thompson, Kevin Henkes and Dr Seuss. 

Who else would you suggest??

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Valentine's Day

Where has the last 3 months gone?? I'm such a terrible blogger! I'm only slightly better at FB and Instagram - I at least try to post once a week.

We have just finished week 3 of our new school year here in Queensland. I have been absolutely exhausted each and every night I come home. If I have not responded to your email, it's not that I'm ignoring you, it's just that I was too tired to respond when I saw it and then it got lost in the email abyss. If you need me to respond please try sending it again, I am hoping to get caught up with lost emails this week. 

This week was Valentine's and thanks to my wonderful teacher friend Amanda, I had these super cute gifts to give to my class on Friday. 

We also made these cutie patootie Splat the Cat crafts after reading Love, Splat! They come from the adorable pack by Cara at The First Grade Parade. Seriously, everything she does is GOLD and she (and her family) are just so stinkin cute!

I just had to include this one too - notice he didn't copy his sentence correctly, glued the legs up near the face and the paws down the bottom. Poor little guy is finding grade 1 very hard but he always tries his best!

I have been thinking this a LOT the past 3 weeks....
I kinda forget every year how young and dependent they are!