Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Naughty Numbers

One of my favorite things about teaching is the people with whom I teach. I love my team.  I really, really do.  I love that we all have our own little set of experiences and talents we bring to the team.  I love that we all love to share.  And I love that we're all brunette ;)  Ha!  Okay, so that last one was a bit of a stretch, but I'm pretty sure brunettes have more fun :) 

All that to be said, one of the best things about having an amazing team is the collaboration that goes on behind the scenes.  It never seems to come from our regularly scheduled planning periods, rather those off the cuff recess conversations...brainstorming during our quick 20 minute lunch break...or a spur-of-the-moment "a-ha" times during our conference hour.  LOVE that.

Last year my teammate and I were talking about how to help our kids with number reversals and she told me about the "naughty numbers" {5 & 6} and how they're naughty because they face the wrong way.  How did I now know about this??!  How have I never seen this genius before?!  It's been staring me right in the face!  So I took that idea and ran with it and made up a little story...and silly little visuals...to help the kids remember the "naughty number" rule.  I know it sounds crazy, but it works EVERY time!  

Zero...the point of origin...is the teacher {where it all starts}.  He is really serious about sequencing his kids when they walk down the hall and his only rule is that they line up in order facing forward.  1, 2, 3, & 4 do just as they're told.  They always follow directions.  But 5 & 6?!?!  Well they're just up to no good and they're always turning around to sneak away from the rest of their class. 1, 2, 3, & 4 have NO idea what's going on behind them because they're always facing the right way.  But 7, 8, & 9 are appalled!!!  They try to tell 5 & 6 to turn around, but they NEVER do!!  They're just so darn naughty!!!  

Somehow this tiny little tale of the naughty numbers seems to resonate with those little friends who have a hard time remembering that a 3 doesn't look like an uppercase capital E, or that a 6 doesn't look like a 2, or that a 9 doesn't look like a P.  When I'm checking their independent work and I see that my friends have number reversals, all I have to say is, "Remember the naughty numbers?!  Go back and look at your work again to make sure those are the only numbers being naughty!!"  I don't immediately tell them what to change at this point in the year because I want them to self monitor their work and get in the habit of double checking for errors.  That little reminder always seems to help!

Praise God for smart teammates and collaboration.  I sure do love feeling smarter than I really am!!!  HA!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Well, Isn't That Clever?!

I'm gonna brag for a second.

I have smart friends.  Really smart.  Very talented.  Extremely CLEVER friends.  And I love to be around them because I have no less than 5,089 "a-ha!!!" moments when I'm with them.

Now let's change gears for just a second before I go braggin' on my clever friends.  I've often been asked how I assess and/or know exactly what my kids are doing when they're working independently in literacy/math stations.  I have a few different things I do, but when my very clever friend, Deedee, told me what she does, I immediately knew I had to change the way I was doing things!

Deedee has the kids take pictures with her iPhone {or was it iPad?!?!} of their hands-on activity to show her what they did!  And just to make sure she knows who's taking pictures of what, she has the kids set out their name/picture cards {the same ones they use for the computer} by their work and then she can scroll through her camera roll and check it at some point during the day just to make sure they did it all!!!  HELLO!!  I LOVE IT!

Here are her kids showing off their work with my CVC puzzles from my Filling in the Gaps packet!  #love

I absolutely LOVE this idea!!!!  Guided reading time is oh so precious.  SO very precious.  And the day seems to go so fast that it can be hard to check everything in great detail.  And, of course, there are always those sweet little friends who like to visit a station for a hot second and tell you they've done it all, but darnit...they're just too quick for you to catch and they fly under the radar.  I know y'all know what I'm talking about.

And I love what a fun little way this is to incorporate technology...I know we do that A LOT!!!!...and get the kids excited about doing their work so they can show off their accomplishments.


Such a CLEVER idea!!  Thank you, Deedee, for sharing!!!

And by request, I finally bundled my CVC and CVCE packets together and you can grab them HERE.

And if you haven't entered to win the fluency bundle of fun from me & Katie, head over now!  There's still time to enter!  3 winners will be announced tomorrow :)

In the meantime, have a GREAT night!!!  

Sunday, March 30, 2014

A Little More Fluency Fun + A Giveaway

I intended to blog about more of our insect fun last week, but time got away from me.  And then I had to pack and get ready for a weekend with the girls.  If you're following me on Instagram, you might have seen a few little pics of my road trip to San Antonio this weekend.  Several of my sweet blogging friends met up in SA for the Neon Dash...and lots of eating...shopping...and more eating.  The best part of any trip, of course ;)

Before the race...

And after ....

Friends are, by far, the best thing about blogging.  What precious, PRECIOUS people these girls are and what a FUN weekend we had!!!  Reagan summed it up perfectly in her sweet recap of the weekend if you want to read a little more about it! 

 Speaking of sweet blogging friends...

When I got home tonight, I had a surprise waiting for me.  We lost our mail key a few weeks ago, but Mr. Spouse found it and here's what I got to open up when I walked in the door!

Is this not precious?!

 The sweetest little fluency gift from Katie!  How fabulous is this?!?!?  This is an AMAZING packet of fluency & comprehension fun and I'm so excited to put it all into action when I get back to the classroom this week.  The posters are such a great visual for my kinder babies and I absolutely LOVE the game ideas included in the packet!  Between my little fluency center and these great activities, I expect to have the most fluent little almost first graders by the end of the year!!!  Yay!!!

Katie is so very passionate about fluency...and so very smart and talented when it comes to creating activities that encourage fluency growth!!  I'm so very, VERY excited about these visuals...
And the games are SO very engaging and so exciting for the kids.  I mean, don't you love it when they're having FUN and they have NO idea they're learning?!!??  #thebest

We got to talking and thought it would be fun to do a little giveaway together so that you guys can set your kids up for fluency success, too!

3 winners will have the chance to win ALL of these fun fluency resources from me & Katie :).  Here's what you'll get...

I **finally** got around to adding all of the Dolch list fluency phrases and games to the store.  My kids are seriously EATING.IT.UP.  This is their favorite center in the room!  And y'know what?!  Their fluency is improving EVERY day...as well as their sight word recognition.  {You can't see me, but I'm giving you a virtual fist bump right now. Boom.}

Here are the giveaway details...

4 Rock Your Fluency Packets from me {Pre-Primer - 3rd grade Dolch List Fluency Phrases & Games}
Spring into Fluency from Katie {power passages, smart art, lesson plans, etc.}

Would you like to chance to win all of these fabulous fluency resources?!  GREAT!  
Here's what you need to do...

Pretty simple. 

We'll announce 3...yes, THREE...winners on Thursday.  

In the meantime, we're both having a sale in our shops expiring at midnight on Monday, so you might find something to hold you over {on sale!!!} until we announce the winners on Thursday.  

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

What's the Bug Deal?

Just wanted to pop in real quick and share a few things we've been up to this week!  

This week we're learning all about insects. Since there's SO much to learn...and so many little insects to cover...we're taking two full weeks to learn about these little critters.  This week is a big introduction to insects.  Here's how we started our learning...

I also introduced this song.  Obviously this isn't an original!  It's been around for ages and my kids LOVE it.  Even my own two littles!!  They get such a kick out of singing this when they come in my room after school.

We're taking a closer look at ants and today we created this little anchor chart to jot down our new learning.  We'll be using all this info to guide our expository writing and craftivity tomorrow!!!  

We also celebrated Kite Day today.  The kids made their kites during art and after lots of excitement and anticipation, we took them outside today to fly.  Last year the weather was exceptionally perfect for Kite Day. This year...notsomuch.  It was SO unbelievably windy {and cold, too!!!}  Their poor little kites took such a beating and so many of them were ripped and torn in less than 5 minutes.  Sad!  All that to be said, the kids got over it pretty quickly and started problem solving ways to make their torn kites fly.  Love our sweet little thinkers.  

Here's my oldest right before he flew his kite...
Please forgive the terrible color of these pictures!  I just got a new laptop and I haven't had a chance to calibrate the screen.  Everything looks SO yellow and warm!!  

In other news, I posted my Second Grade Dolch List Fluency Packet and it's on sale until midnight tonight.  

I'm hoping to have the 3rd Grade Dolch List packet posted by tomorrow at the latest.  Whew!!  

Have a great night!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Plants Aplenty!

Last week our class was immersed in plants.  Lots and LOTS of plants!!

We started the week tapping into our schema about plants and learning lots of new info.  

And then we moved right into diagrams and labels....and tree maps, too!  I created this same anchor chart last year and used it again this year to guide our independent writing and hands-on activities.

I made the kids responsible for adding to our tree map.  I love their inventive spelling :)

This year I had the kids assemble and label the parts of  a flower.

We used the info from our tree maps to create our little Flower Friends!  I've GOT to get these hung up...they're just too cute!


One of my kids' favorite activities from the week was our whole group math game...Flower Power!

This is how we played it last year..


This year I have a whole different set of kids, so we played the game a bit differently.  We tossed our little beanbags onto two different numbers and used the manipulatives to join those numbers together and then create a number sentence to match.  We talked about how we didn't need to worry about which number to write first in the equation because when you're joining two numbers {addends} together, it doesn't matter which number goes first. 

Then we took those same numbers and practiced subtraction  We first identified the largest number and counted out a set of manipulatives to match.  Then we talked about that sneaky ol' Linus the Minus who likes to take things away and then we removed that amount from the set.  The kids practiced writing number sentences for that, too.  They absolutely LOVED this game!  Sooooo...it's made its way into our math dessert tubs.  They are VERY eager to finish their work so they can play this game over & over!

Speaking of math, my kids were rockin' their plant themed math journal activities last week!  We used these cut & paste printables from my It's a Spring Thing! Interactive Math Printable packet and added these...and several more...to our math journals.  They're blossoming into such great little math minded thinkers!!

We celebrated Plant Day last Friday and spent the day investigating, measuring, & observing lots of different plants.  Then each of our kids got their own little pot and we planted seeds.  I bought three different seed packets and the whole time I was picking them out and was seriously sweating.  I have NO clue what flowers grow best.  I have a black thumb. This is definitely me....

I am *praying* we have at least a few that sprout.  I looked everywhere for rye grass, but to no avail.  Instead, I picked out Cosmos, Marigolds, and Portulacas.  The kids got to pick out which seed they wanted to plant, then we came back inside, added their names to our "Grow, Flower, Grow!" chart, and then read the book...

We are SO anxious to see which flower grows first!!!  

It was definitely a busy week.  If you want to read more about what we did during plant week last year, you can check it out HERE.

We're learning all about insects for the next couple of weeks!  Can't wait to share what we've been doing!!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A Little Recap. That's All.

I know many of y'all are on Spring Break, but I am not.  In fact, I think I need ANOTHER week off.  We are just getting back in the swing of things after an ever so glorious, albeit way too busy, Spring Break.  {tear, sniff}.  I can smell Summer just around the corner and the fragrance is OH so sweet.  Sweet, sweet summa-time.  

Now before I start daydreaming about being poolside, I'll go ahead and recap what we've been up to these last few weeks.  

We had lots of presidential-sized Kindergarten fun.

As you can see, we're working on our handwriting.  That to be said, heck if I'm not so excited that my littles are getting their thoughts on paper...and I can read it all, too!!!!  

These are a favorite every year, but even more so this year.

And it's all because of this...

I kid you not when I tell you that most of my kids said they'd keep CHEESE in their hats.  WHA?!?!!?

Right after presidents, we learned all about the GREAT{est ;)} state of TEXAS!!!  I didn't really change up too much of what I did from last year {you can read about that HERE}, but I did end up our unit of learning with a Rodeo day this year.  One of my sweet teammates brought her horses up to school and the kids got to ride them {with permission slips signed, of course}.  AND...my FAVORITE part of the day...making and eating {er, devouring} a class bowl of Armadilly Chili!!  YUM!

Our kids worked their little TAILS off for an amazing performance in the school Texas ABC Play.  PRESH.  My oldest took part in it, too.  He played the part of George Strait.  I'm not gonna lie.  I shot pics through the lens of tear filled eyes.  He has my heart, this one.  And I swear I'm not trying to be a braggy momma, but darnit...he did SO good!!!  For being a little introvert, he really surprised me!  Smiled, sang, and played his part just GREAT!!!!

We had a BUSY spring break.  A visit from my best friend and her kids...golf cart rides...a day at the beach...family fun night...redecorating...celebrating my sister's birthday...and a day at the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo.  My boys have been to the carnival before, but this was their first year to go to the rodeo...and they LOVED it!  Especially the calf scramble and mutton bustin'!  HA!

Speaking of being surprised, I about fell out when my shy child exclaimed that he wanted to ride the mechanical bull.  I mean, he BEGGED us to do it.  He even happily waited in line...ALONE...for half an hour.  Who is this child?!  I took pictures through tear filled eyes on this one, too :)

And the boys were SO dang excited to get their faces painted. That was another first!  They've never been interested before.  I couldn't get them to wash their faces for a few days after that!  HA!!!

We hit the ground running on Monday with lots of St. Patty's Day shenanigans.  Of course, our Loopy Leprechauns had to be part of the day.  This one was my favorite.  I'm a sucker for little boys who write about their mommas.

You can see these loopy little leprechauns in action in my first grade classroom HERE.
And you can find the template for them HERE {in case you want it for your files :)}

I found precious mathtivity from Erin over at Eberhart's Explorers...
Adding gold for St. Patrick's day. Also, making graphs with lucky charms marshmellows

I mean, is that not darling or what?!

Anyway, LOVED it so much, but I ran out of construction paper and didn't have enough to finish the task, so I had to do something just a little different.  These are nowhere NEAR as cute as Erin's, but they did the trick and the kids had SO much fun adding their "magical" gold coins :)  #winning

Last but not least, I've added my Rock Your Fluency ~ The First Grade Edition ~ to the shop.  And it's on sale until tomorrow.  2nd & 3rd grade packs will be added by the end of the week.  Whew!  

Have a GREAT night!!!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

You Requested. I Created.

Hey y’all!  I promise I’m not turning into a once-a-week blogger, but I’ve been a bit preoccupied lately.  I’ve been knee deep in redecorating my master bedroom these last couple of weeks and that’s pretty much how I spend my nights.  Planning.  Pinning.  Pinning some more.  And decorating.  We’ve got ‘er painted.  We have the bedding.  Now I just need to find the finishing touches and finish painting a few pieces of furniture!  It’s almost there!!

Moving right along…

I received the sweetest messages/emails last month asking if I’d be willing to create an interactive math printable packet similar to the math printables included in my Get Your Waddle On! and Heart of a Champion packets.  If you own these, then you’re familiar with what I’m talking about.  If not, read on ;)

Those last couple of packets included interactive math printables perfect for small group math work, math journals, homework, or just however you see fit!  In our class, I use them as a small group math piece.  They cover basic math skills {patterning, sequencing, tallest/shortest, least/greatest, even/odd, skip counting} and reinforce addition, subtraction, and word problems/problem solving.

Y’all.  My kids go nuts for these.  For real.  They LOVE problem solving.  And I LOVE that they love it!!!  And I love that we are TALKING about math like little math thinkers!!!  I’m not gonna lie.  I LOVE this time of year!!!  It just all starts to “click”!!!!


I was looking through my oldest son’s take home folder and found that his precious teacher used some of those math printables in her room.  Love.  What I REALLY love is that she made the printables smaller and turned them into a little math journal!!!  Love, love, LOVE!!!!!

wordprob wordprob2wordprob3

Clearly we need to work on neatness ;) Ha!

I listened to your requests and created a little printable packet for March/April.  Perfect for spring time learning! 

Click on the picture for a more detailed description if this is something you’re interested in.


Speaking of requests, I am thisclose to being finished with my Rock Your Fluency for the 1st-3rd Dolch lists!  Check back this weekend if you’re waiting for it!

In the meantime, I’m off to decorate!  Or fall asleep.  Whichever happens first :)

I’m giving away 3 of these printable packets of math fun on Facebook!  Head on over for your chance to win!!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Fluency Fun and a Sale!

Well…hello there!

Long time no blog.

My days have been crazy and I’ve been enjoying my nights with the family.  When people used to tell me that kids grow up fast, I halfheartedly listened and nodded.  Y’all.  They weren’t kidding.  I blinked and my boys grew up.  They’re still not done growing…Praise God!…but wow.  They’re not babies any more…at all!!!  I savor every single minute I get with those two!  Life’s too short to miss a beat!  So you’ll have to forgive my absence, but I was lovin’ on my boys and busy making memories. 

The great news is that I have A LOT to share!!!  Tonight I’m focusing on fluency.  Reading fluency.  One of my favorite skills to watch my kids develop.  Not just the rate of reading, but the expression and voice in which they read!  I love watching my kids turn into little storytellers right before my eyes.

I’ve had a fluency center in my classroom for several years.  Each year I seem to add a little something new to my little back of tricks.  We start out the year with sight word rings….tons of poetry…and fun little games.

This is my favorite resource for poetry…



We’ve progressed into fluency phrases and short stories and my kids are obsessed.  Completely and totally OBSESSED.

It was really important to me to make sure my kids were practicing full on sight word phrases…and a lot of them.  I wanted them to have opportunities to be successful at reading…even independently…without my help.  I also wanted the phrases to be leveled so that I could differentiate independent learning.  We use the Dolch lists, so I created a Pre-Primer and Primer set of fluency phrases using the words off of those lists…plus several common nouns.  The kids have to work their way through 7 Pre-Primer sets of fluency phrases before they can move on to the Primer sets.  I divided both sets into different colored tubs so that the kids would know the difference between the two sets.  And they know exactly where to go and on which set of phrases they should be practicing.


Each time my kids fluently read their way through a set of phrases, they get a little certificate.  As Abby would say, “STOP.THE.WORLD.”  They about DIE!  They will do ANYTHING for a little paper piece of praise!!!


In addition to the fluency phrase rings, we also have a fluency folder.  This is a little bit different than our poetry folder, but it serves a very similar purpose…to increase sight word recognition automaticity and improve voice {expression, intonation, etc.}

The poetry pages are great for fluency practice, but I don’t time the kids with them when they read.  I wanted something separate for that.  So…I took all the words from the Pre-Primer and Primer Dolch Lists and made up fluency stories using those words.  I introduce a new story at the beginning of the week {sometimes 2-3 depending on the student} and time their first read and record errors, time, etc.  This is a SUPER quick activity and takes very little time given that the text is mostly sight words.  Right before our guided reading lesson, I have my kids read their fluency story to me and time them on it then record it in their fluency folder.  They love seeing how quickly they can read each day and how their fluency/time improves throughout the week.  This doesn’t take the place of their guided readers though.  They still get a guided reader every day.

fluency7 fluency9

When my kids practice their fluency independently, they’re not just reading their fluency phrases.  They’re reading their fluency stories, too.  I keep a few rings of these voice cards in the fluency tubs so that the kids can practice reading their stories {and phrases} in different voices.  They LOVE this.


My kids keep their fluency folders at school so that they have lots to choose from when they read, but they could easily be sent home for practice, too.

Here’s a little peek at what my fluency tubs look like.  They all contain a set of fluency phrases {a different level in each tub}, voice cards, sand timers, stopwatches, fluency/whisper phones, a microphone {for my little rock stars} and some glassless glasses {just for kicks}. 


The kids are responsible for keeping track of their fluency folders because we’re a bit limited on space.  So far, so good. 

We also LOVE playing games to help us improve our fluency.  This is one of our favorites!  Roll, Read, & Highlight! 


We play a few different whole group fluency games, too…but I really want to take pictures of those before I share because if you’re anything like me, you’re a visual learner and you’ll need some pictures to go along with the explanation!  Sometimes I just can’t articulate it like I can show it!  HA!

Anyway…I finally gave this whole center a face lift and added it to the shop.  I’m working on finishing up the First-Fourth sets as well, so stay tuned for those.  Here’s a little preview of what’s included.


And have you heard the news?!?!?  TpT is having a sitewide sale today and tomorrow {2/27-2/28}!!  So this little bundle of fun is on sale ‘til tomorrow at midnight!


This packet is an additional $2 off the sale price tonight only!  It will still be on sale tomorrow, but only discounted 20%.

If you’re looking for math and literacy activities for spring, I have several packets in my little shop you might be able to use, too.

March Mathtivities {14 Math Tub Activities for March}



Write On! ~March Edition {23 Math & Literacy Write the Room Activities}



March Mayhem {16 Literacy Tub Activities for March}



For Peep’s Sake {6 Literacy & 6 Math Tub Activities ~ Bundled}



So tell me, friends.  What wonderful activities do you do to help improve fluency?!  Reader’s Theater??  Poetry??  DO TELL!!!!  I’m always looking for more ideas!!!